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EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies Program: Supporting Resources Critical to Entrepreneurial Success

Assistant Secretary Williams joins U.S. Senator Angus King and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree to spotlight Maine’s two 2015 RIS recipients: The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and Coastal Enterprises Inc. Ensuring that entrepreneurs across the nation have access to the tools they need to move their ideas and inventions from idea to market is a top priority for President Obama and his administration.

To advance this key priority, today Secretary Pritzker announced the 25 recipients of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program, which this year was designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country through grants addressing two essential core components that entrepreneurs need to take their ideas to market: programmatic support and access to capital.

Under RIS, programmatic support to help convert research and inventions into jobs is funded through EDA’s i6 Challenge, now in its fifth iteration.

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Success Stories

GE facility in Asheville, NC Ashville, NC (ATRO) EDA University Center Partners with GE to Support Manufacturing of Aircraft Engines

Successful manufacturing is predicated upon innovation and implementation of new technologies that will support long-term competitiveness. While this is true in all industries, it is particularly true in aviation manufacturing. Increased pressures by consumers for engines that are fuel efficient and more powerful have led GE, a leader in aircraft engine manufacturing, to develop the new LEAP aircraft engine. This fourth generation aircraft engine is the most technologically advanced engine that the firm has ever produced and is stimulating significant investment in a number of GE manufacturing plants across the country to develop, assemble, and test parts for the new engine. As GE ramps up to begin full production of the new engine in 2016, the company has been examining how they can streamline operations to meet the growing demand beginning on day one.

At the GE facility in Asheville, NC, engineers and workers have been examining how the rotating seals and blades of the LEAP engine could be manufactured more efficiently, which will enable the company to manufacture more engines in a manner that is safer for employees.

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Highlight: EDA: A Year in Review

Secretary Pritzker with EDA staff for EDA's 50th anniversary celebration 2015 marked EDA's 50th anniversary!

Taking the time to reflect on everything EDA has accomplished helps us showcase the power of economic development and reminds us of the importance of supporting regional collaboration and focusing on innovation to create jobs!

Listen to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Commemorate EDA's 50th Anniversary (video)

Helping Communities Develop a Skilled and Adaptable Workforce

As the leader of the Commerce Department's strategic objective to catalyze innovation ecosystems in the U.S., EDA this year invested $55 million in 42 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance program projects across the nation to help communities develop a skilled and adaptable workforce. These investments are expected to spur $593 million in private investment and create more than 9,800 jobs, exceeding targets set in the strategic plan.

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Message from Assistant Secretary Jay Williams

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams At the Department of Commerce, our strategic plan provides us with a clear mission: to grow trade and investment, support innovation, provide environmental intelligence, unlock our data for the benefit of businesses and the public, and to deliver our services with operational excellence.

At EDA we support this strategic focus by working with our partners across the nation to make key long-term investments in the foundation of America’s economic growth - investments in people through skills training; investments in innovation and entrepreneurship; and investments in the country’s physical and digital infrastructure.

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NACIE Helping Bridge the Startup Funding Gap

On December 3rd and 4th, the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) will kick off its second year of a two-year term, advising the Department of Commerce on important issues related to our nation’s entrepreneurs, inventors and tomorrow’s workforce. One such issue NACIE sees as an opportunity is the “Valley of Death” in technology-based industries – a unique hurdle firms face when transitioning from public research funding to private investment. This is especially true in the industry I am most passionate about; medical devices and medical technology, and I’ve seen firsthand how building a supportive ecosystem can help reduce this funding chasm.

Today, investment in technology innovation and commercialization is critical to the competitive position of the United States and the economic growth of regional clusters. In the medical device industry, it is also critical to the health and well-being of the patient population. This is why the public sector has been a strong source of funding for early stage innovation, but the path toward successful commercialization only begins there. Federal programs such as Small Business Innovation Research grants and NSF i-Corps are instrumental in helping researchers transition technologies out of the lab. Yet, the “Valley of Death” has grown larger, often leaving technology startups struggling to make the transition from grant dollars to early stage investments. Why is this, and what can we be doing in our own communities to help?

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Success Story: Ben Franklin Technology Partners: Growth Breeds Success for Entrepreneurs

Ben Franklin Technology Partners Logo Ben Franklin once said, "Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." It’s therefore fitting that an institution bearing his name, Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP), has taken those words to heart. Since its founding in 1983, it’s become the leading technology-based economic development programs through continuous expansion.

Over the years, Pennsylvania has faced economic challenges as manufacturing and industrial jobs have left the region. BFTP has sought to help the region build new businesses and diversify its economy by providing both early-stage and established companies with funding, business and technical expertise, and access to a network of innovative, expert resources. BFTP estimates that it has created 140,000 jobs and boosted the Pennsylvania economy by $6.6 billion.

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Highlight: This is What We Saw in Philadelphia During "Rise of the Rest"

Steve Case photo Stephen Tang photo In September, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest bus rolled through its 16th city, Philadelphia, as part of an effort to shine a spotlight on emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems across the United States. As members of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), we approached the many conversations throughout the day with founders, academic leaders, political leaders and others across Philadelphia with some of NACIE’s policy proposals to ignite innovation in mind.

Philadelphia has a rich history of innovation, thanks to Benjamin Franklin and the founding fathers. But the city has a modern side as well, with a thriving arts community and state-of-the-art medical facilities and research centers. The startup scene has been called “scrappy” – in a good way – and it’s gaining traction as it leverages its millennial population, the arrival of new funds like First Round Capital and the emergence of rising tech stars such as Arcweb, RJ Metrics and Curalate.

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Spotlight: U.S. EDA: Promoting Entrepreneurship and Innovation Across Every Community in America

Julie Lenzer, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Participates in the Commerce Department’s First-Ever Open for Innovation Event. Entrepreneurship is a driving force in the new economy. While debates continue around whether entrepreneurs are born or can be created, one thing is clear: people learn a great deal from the experiences of others. Entrepreneurs especially learn a great deal “on the job” and often find inspiration and mentorship from those who have “been there, done that.”

As “America’s Innovation Agency,” the Department of Commerce focuses on supporting entrepreneurs and businesses of every size. For example, Commerce leads the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, which works with celebrated American entrepreneurs to harness their energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs both at home and abroad.

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U.S. EDA: Promoting Entrepreneurship and Innovation Across Every Community in America

Julie Lenzer, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Participates in the Commerce Department’s First-Ever Open for Innovation Event. Entrepreneurship is a driving force in the new economy. While debates continue around whether entrepreneurs are born or can be created, one thing is clear: people learn a great deal from the experiences of others. Entrepreneurs especially learn a great deal “on the job” and often find inspiration and mentorship from those who have “been there, done that.”

As “America’s Innovation Agency,” the Department of Commerce focuses on supporting entrepreneurs and businesses of every size. For example, Commerce leads the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, which works with celebrated American entrepreneurs to harness their energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs both at home and abroad.

> Read more

U.S. EDA: Supporting Entrepreneurship as a Key Driver of Economic Opportunity and Job Growth in Baltimore

Assistant Secretary Jay Williams Joins National Urban League (NUL) President & CEO Marc Morial and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to announce an EDA investment will help to establish a new Entrepreneurship Center Program Problem solvers, game changers, dreamers, and doers – these are just a few descriptors commonly associated with entrepreneurs all across the U.S. Today, more than ever, we see the power and impact new businesses have throughout developing communities as these startups create jobs, improve quality of life, and help define the characteristics that make communities alive and unique.

Last April, in the midst of the unrest taking place in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, we saw first-hand how important micro-business owners and entrepreneurs are to supporting economic opportunity and jobs locally. However, too often people in underserved communities lack the opportunities and resources to put their dreams into action, and as a basic component of economic self-sufficiency, it is ever more important we strive to support entrepreneurship across every community in America.

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